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      or a successful Portrait Painting, especially when photographic references may be used, it is VITAL for an artist to have the enriched experience and ability to work from life, particularly DRAW FROM LIFE. Such experience enables the artist to portray likeness with the most natural and life-like appearance which truly immortalizes the person, and creates the portrait far beyond its photographic references. 

~  Igor V. Babailov, Hon. RAA


Prime Miniser Brian Mulroney's Official Portrait Sitting at Igor Babailov's Studio.
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney - official portrait sitting.
Portrait sitting with U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito - in preparation for the official U.S. Supreme Court oil portrait by Igor Babailov. The National Arts Club sitting, New York.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Alito.
In preparation for the official oil portrait.

Established Portrait Painting Procedure and its vital initial step, Drawing from LIFE. 

Igor Babailov's life-time experience in portrait painting allows him to work comfortably from life or from photographs.  When working from photographic references is necessary, in the instances when clients have busy schedules or with children for whom it is difficult to sit for extended periods, or for posthumous portraits and those commissioned as a surprise, Mr. Babailov applies his invaluable knowledge of painting from life, acquired through his life-time experience and unsurpassed formal 16 years of traditional fine art education (1974-1990) within the master-studios of the historic Russian Academy of Arts (founded in 1757 by Catherine the Great).   

The initial meeting with the client usually takes two and a half hours and is scheduled at the artist’s studio or the client’s location. At this meeting, the overall idea, size and the wall location where the portrait will be displayed are discussed, and Babailov will take up to 300-plus photographic references of the subject, to be used in the creation of the portrait.


Since one of the MOST IMPORTANT steps in any Master's Portrait Painting Procedure is DRAWING FROM LIFE, in preparation for painting, Igor Babailov masterfully demonstrates his skill in Drawing as well.

"If one can Draw from life, one can always Paint !" 

~  Pietro Annigoni, Royal Portrait Painter

The Igor Babailov Unique Drawing Studies from Life

Igor Babailov, Hon. RAA is one of the very few artists today whose Portrait Painting Procedure resembles precisely those of the Great Masters of Portraiture, such as Ilya Repin and John Singer Sargent, as it includes preliminary DRAWING studies from LIFE. In these studies, Igor Babailov captures impeccable likeness, character and personality in a matter of minutes and seconds, regardless of the sitter's age. This requires the artist's independence from the camera and ability to DRAW entirely from Life, which today is a fundamental challenge for many painters.

Such knowledge and experience in drawing enables the artist to portray likeness with the most natural and life-like appearance which truly immortalizes the person in the painting, and creates the portrait far beyond its photographic references, when photographic references are used.

SAMPLES of Drawings from LIFE

Malta - portrait of Tatiana Maligina, by Igor Babailov. Collection of the Ambassador and Mrs. V. Maligin.
Official Portrait sitting with Governor Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England - in preparation for the official oil portrait by Igor Babailov
Igor Babailov - Portrait session with the Plesident of Malta
Life sketches of children, by Igor Babailov
General David Petraeus, U.S. Army Commander, CIA Director - by Igor Babailov
Portrait sketch of Grace, by Igor Babailov
Life Sketch of Monica, by Igor Babailov
Audience with Pope Benedict XVI, sharing sketches from life in preparation for the official oil portrait. Artist Igor Babailov, Vatican.
Cadis - fast drawing sketches from life, by Igor Babailov

In these DRAWING STUDIES, the artist assumes the challenge of the monochromatic drawing method which, unlike a color painting sketch, requires 100% accuracy in tonal values and proportions and does not forgive mistakes in likeness!  They say: "Drawing never fails, but often the artist does", this is why the vast majority of today's portrait painters do not draw from life in front of their clients. However, it's the DRAWING studies from LIFE that have been recognized by generations of Portrait Masters, as the VITAL STEP in preparation for a portrait painting. It provides the immense opportunity to ultimately understand all the nuances of the subject's features and likeness, in order to get a deeper sense of beautiful uniqueness, character and personality, in direct communication with the person (please see What You Need To Know When Commissioning A Portrait Painting).

Igor Babailov's life-time experience and years of formal academic training allow him to complete each finely detailed DRAWING STUDY from life within 30 minutes. At the same time, clients have the opportunity to see the artist in 'action' and his skill in capturing a full of character life-likeness, right on the spot, within a brief period of time, with only a black & white pencil. After all, "if one can draw from life [NOT from photos!], one can always paint", said master portrait painter Pietro Annigoni.


After the initial meeting, Mr. Babailov provides the client with several original, artistic and hand-created compositional master-studies, to determine the best compositional setting of the figure in the background, most suitable for the portrait.  Once the decision on the choice of composition is made, the artist professionally prepares the museum quality appropriate weight canvas to start painting the actual portrait. 

Igor Babailov with Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza.
Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza

Any photos provided by the client will be returned upon portrait completion.


A 40%-50% deposit ( the amount of deposit is determined by the size of the portrait ) is required upon the signing of the Portrait Agreement and before the work begins.


Mr. Babailov travels extensively to the schedule and convenience of his portrait client’s location and caters to a distinguished professional clientele, in the United States, Canada and around the world.    


Igor Babailov's Fees are quoted in U.S. Dollars and available upon request at

Prices are determined by the portrait size, number of people and medium used. 

Available traditional portrait mediums are:   Oil on Canvas /Linen,  Charcoal /Sepia /Graphite   and  Pastel.

The BONE family portrait in oil, portrait of seven, by portrait artist Igor Babailov
Ambassador Michael Novak portrait sitting, with portrait artist Igor Babailov
Portraits of Men
Family and Children
Menefee Theresa portrait, Oil portraits of Women by Igor Babailov.
Portraits of Women
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